Recently I had the task of rebranding a website and changing the domain (url). The site has a lot to contend with: Mail is managed at GSuite, e-commerce downloads are managed at Amazon AWS, there is a newsletter people can sign up to that uses SendGrid, and the site has over 7,000 subscribers apart from the newsletter. It was important not to lose any orders, any signups, and to continue to be able to communicate via email. I built the new look and feel on a sub-domain, but when it came time to go live, I didn’t trust any migration tools and therefore did a manual branding update before having the host switch out the URL and adjusting the forwards. The host wanted me to have a full backup, which was impossible to make because when we first started out with ecommerce, we only had a few products and I put all the downloads in the media library. So to create a backup, I had to move all the products to Amazon AWS. The site went from 15 gigs to under 2 after moving those large files, but it was labor intensive. Once I had a backup, it was go-time.
Did it go perfectly? Well, no, at first no one could download their product purchases. Why? Turns out the permalinks needed resetting. Then, some purchases were still being sent the download link to the old site.. this was because of cache software that the host installed. DNS records were changed with unknown consequences. The newsletter email address and links would not update at SendGrid and it took over a week to hear back from support. Several mx records needed to be updated to appear correctly at SendGrid, but they would not update for me. Finally our IT consultant was able to fix it. We were on the verge of switching to Constant Contact just because they have better support. I noticed that TechSoup had the old company name associated with our account; we just had to send them the name change paperwork.
All in all, the site was down for a total of six hours. I think that is not too bad for such a monumental change. For customers who purchased a product before the domain change and never downloaded their product files, they need to be sent a new download link. But that’s the only persistent issue for the time being.
Being a web designer means more than just creating designs… while I would love to just do that, it also involves working with IT (I have to constantly remind my colleagues and clients that IT issues are solved by someone who is not me), hosting, dns, databases, and the like. While it’s technical and somewhat geeky, it does set me apart from designers who don’t have a clue about this part of the process to having a successful website.
The website I updated can be seen at https://www.orbisministries.org
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